Skip to main content

Full text of "My country and my people"

See other formats

and equality, of government service, of nationalism and patriotism, of man's attitude toward society itself. The result was an overwhelming chaos in the minds of the older and younger generation.
Yet by definition, the period of conflict of ideas was also the period of intellectual ferment. Beneath the avalanche of ideas, the nation began to wonder and to think. Looking now over the four decades of cultural interchange, of violent liberalism and arrogant, hollow conservatism, from the spirited communist youth of the present to the warlord advocates of Confucianism of the generation that has to-day almost died out, one sees an amazing contrast in point of view. One compares the soulless old carcasses governing Puppetia in Peipingóthe ex-warlord Ch'i Hsuehyuan, the Anfu politician Wang Kehmin, the long-bearded, literary Ex-Commissioner of Imperial Metropolitan Gendarmerie Chiang Ch'aotsung, and the scholarly collector of old editions Tung K'angówith the faces of communist youth in Edgar Snow's Red Star Over China, or of Hunan girl soldiers marching on foot, carrying rifles and knapsacks, and one gets the impression that the two generations Kve in two different worlds. Their spiritual profiles are as strikingly different as their physical profiles. Three generations have completed a cycle of change from the stale and mouldy mandarin, with his apres-nous-le-deluge mentality, to the nationally and internationally conscious, flaming youth of to-day.
For this is the story of the birth of a nation in four decades. Out of a civilization grew a nation. Yet the word "nation** as used here has a pathetic tone about it. China was a civilization, more than a nation. In the best sense of the word only was China a nation, a political group of homogeneous people permeated by a homogeneous culture, having a common language, a common history, a common literature and a common belief in certain spiritual values. It was not, however, a fighting nation, organized by railways and radios and propaganda bureaus and equipped and armed for carrying on or resisting international aggression. It was merely a sprawling mass of humanity trying to live out their individual lives, and nobody could question their right to do so. For living in the present decade of upsets of all values, in an internationally